Social Media: Connection or Detachment?


Stacey MacNaught via Flickr

Social media applications are especially popular on the screens of young people.

Raise your hand if you used a social media application in the past 24 hours. Or instead of raising your hand, try putting down your phone. Social media has started to consume the lives of people ages 10+, and many children under the age of four are addicted to watching television or playing games on cell phones and iPads. Is social media ultimately pulling us apart?

USA Today quotes Steve Jobs, the creator of the iPhone, who “promised a revolutionary mobile phone” that can send emails or take photos. But the negative effects of cell phones were not part of his promise. As sophomore Will Kirschner explains, “phones were originally meant to connect us, but in today’s society, they seem to be doing the exact opposite. Everyone is in their own world occupied by their own streams of media, which makes us more distant than ever.”

Furthermore, the Pew Research Center explains how “roughly three-quarters of Americans now own a smartphone.” American consumers spend countless hours on their smartphones each day, and more and more people are becoming “smartphone zombies.” Cell phone owners are likely to have some form of social media, whether it be Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter or WhatsApp.

Smartphones and social media are even preventing people from enjoying deep conversations with friends and family. As sophomore Maya El-Sharif states, “cell phones make it easier to avoid physical communication and therefore have made us far more disconnected than ever,” despite the fact that the “intent of social media and cell phones was to connect the world at the tap of a button.” Social media and cell phones are no longer serving their intended purpose, and instead they are disconnecting people and distracting them from important offline events.

People tend to check their phones during meetings and feel the urge to open a Snapchat or answer a call instead of paying attention. As sophomore Spencer Bauman explains, “I believe phones disconnect all of us because they take up so much of our time. Companies have made phones so useful and entertaining that now all we do is look at them for hours on end.”

What’s the solution? Put down your phone when you are at the dinner table, when you are walking outside, or when you are with your friends and family. Encourage others to do the same, because everyone needs time to live in the moment and away from a small, bright screen. If you look up from your phone, you never know what you might discover.

Sources: USA Today, Pew Research Center

Photo Source: Flickr